In part one of my open letter on ‘Awakening African Consciousness’ resulting from President Donald Trump’s statements about Haiti and African countries I shared an aspect of the vision given to me in 1977 for the 21st century. I said I saw the end of white supremacy and my role in its eradication. In this second part of the open letter I shall focus on another aspect of the vision – ‘The leading role Barbados and CARICOM was/is playing in the process’ – and will show how the changes started taking place for the 21st century, which will lead to the demise of white supremacy (Racism).
At the eve of the 21st century (1998-1999) the Government of Barbados established a Commission for Pan-African Affairs (CPAA), which is the only such agency of any government. The CPAA was given a mandate to connect with people of Africans descent worldwide. The first project it initiated was an International Pan-African Think Tank conference held in 1999. In 2000, Barbados also carried out a national consultation on racism, the first/only nation to undertaken such an initiative. The recommendations in the Report of the Committee for National Reconciliation, entitled A Shared Vision For the 21st Century – 2000, includes that Barbados join the international reparations movement. The first world conference of the 21st century was the 2001 United Nations (UN) World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance of Durban, South Africa. That conference concluded with a consensus that the transatlantic trade in Africans, chattel enslavement and colonialism were all crimes against humanity. It was the final of three conferences of a 30-year programme of action to eradicate racism, started by the UN in November 1973 (resolution 3057). The outcome of that 2001 conference shook the foundation of white supremacy and set in motion the moral and legal justification claim for reparations to people of African descent. The USA delegation left the conference in protest because Slavery and Colonialism dominated the discussions, coming mainly from the Caribbean delegation.
In July 2002, Haiti, the first symbol of victory in the struggle against white supremacy and the only black nation to have defeated European enslavers, took its rightful place among those in the struggle for reparatory justice, when it became a full member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). In October that year, Barbados hosted the first follow-up to the Durban conference – The Afrikan and Afrikan Descendants World Conference against Racism at which the Global Afrikan Congress, an international reparations NGO, was formed. This was followed in 2003 by the African Union (AU) constituting the African Diaspora as the sixth region of Africa to encourage the full participation of Diasporas; referring to the communities throughout the world that are descended from the historic movement of peoples from Africa; predominantly from the Caribbean and Americas, Europe and the Middle East, and other areas around the globe, with regard to all historic migrations respective of forced and voluntary. That decision by the AU further weakened the foundation of white supremacy (racism), which uses divide and rule as a major strategy within its arsenal. In August 2007 Barbados hosted a joint CARICOM/African Union Conference on Reparations.
The symbolism of white supremacy took another great blow in November 2008 when Barack Obama defeated the Republican nominee to become the 44th and the first black president of the United States of America. President Obama’s inauguration gave the Caribbean reparations process a further boost when the government of Jamaica took the initiative in 2009 and established a National Commission of Reparations.
At times, some of us wonder if the Creator had overlooked the crimes against humanity that have been perpetuated by white supremacists. God’s promise may take long but it surely comes on time. In November 2011, the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal in Malaysia found former US President George W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair guilty of war crimes for their roles in the Iraq war; for genocide and crimes against peace and human rights. The two accused being found guilty as charged are accordingly convicted on the charge. The tribunal has demanded that the International Criminal Court in The Hague frame charges against Bush and Blair as war criminals. History will testify that the judgment of the Malaysian tribunal is an important development for justice; morally that judgment is not only against the two former leaders, but also against the countries they led.That war crimes verdict spiritually inspired the Government of Barbados in 2012 to establish a National Task Force on Reparations on the 520th anniversary of the historic date October 12, 1492. This led CARICOM Governments to formally establish a CARICOM Reparations Commission in September 2013, and in October the same year the World Social Forum – NGO counterpart to the United Nations – proclaimed October 12 as the International Day for Reparations. This was followed in December 2013 by the United Nations proclaiming an International Decade for People of African Descent, which commenced on January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2024 under the themeRecognition, Justice and Development. The process in repairing the damage took another leap forward when in July 2017 the University of the West Indies established a Centre for Reparations Research, which was formally launched in October. At that historic occasion, the CARICON Reparations Commission took the initiative and proclaimed October 12 as Caribbean Holocaust Day.
In December 2017, the Barbados Task Force on Reparations (TFoR) completed its five years of research on the subject of reparations. It has produced a comprehensive document which is now before government, some of its recommendations will form the subject of debate during February African Awareness Month (Black History Month) and during the Season of Emancipation from April 14. The Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth under whose portfolio the TFoR falls said “the report will not be put on a shelf”, because he want its contents to reach all sections of society. This is important as Barbados was the prototype for breaking a man/woman and making a slave through its slave laws of the 17th century (1661), which set the precedent for the racism we see and is experienced in all former British colonies including the United States of America.
One of the main objectives of the reparations process is addressing the psychological damage that has been done to the people of the world, in particular, to people of African descent, and also to people the likes of Donald Trump who must be understood and help if at all possible; this is paramount to the subject matter of repairing the damage. It is for this reason that I had persisted for over 40 years (from 1977) to have an audience with the Prime Minister of Barbados to share with him my vision and mission. My persistence paid off on October 12, 2017. As the first black slave society, history makes it incumbent on Barbados to be the nation to submit a resolution to the United Nations General Assembly on behalf of CARICOM for October 12 to be designated as the international day that gives HOPE for Truth, Justice, Peace, Healing and Reconciliation (Reparations).
With regards to crimes against humanity, the Caribbean region has been the worst violated region of the world. Therefore, when Barbados established its Task Force on Reparations on October 12, 2012 and the CARICOM Reparations Commissions (CRC) was formed a year later, these initiatives brought fresh momentum to the reparations movement in the United States of America. Since its inception the CRC has been working to engender global cooperation for its cause of Reparatory Justice. The francophone countries of Guadeloupe and Martinique, who sit outside of CARICOM have established their own committee in support of the claim for reparatory justice, which have been emulated in the policy platforms of the Black Lives Matter and other civil rights movements in the USA, Canada, England, Europe and in West Papua that is struggling for self-determination from slave like conditions under Indonesia’s occupation.
Finally, Donald Trump’s statements are awakening the consciousness of Africans worldwide and of people of goodwill in many nations. They are many videos on social media posted by Caucasians denouncing and exposing the hypocrisy of white supremacy.
Haiti was forced to pay reparations to France after gaining its independence in 1804. Today, as Haiti holds the Chairmanship of CARICOM, it would therefore be fitting for African people to be successful in getting the United Nations to designate October 12 as International Day for Reparations under Haiti’s chairmanship of CARICOM and within the decade for people of African descent. This will usher in the spirit of genuine truth, justice, peace, healing and reconciliation, which would advance the UN’s own process (resolution of 1973) towards eradicating racism. It will also bring to an end a significant part of my vision of 1977. The promise of God may take long but it surely comes.